Analysis

P.K. Subban trade is a knife to the heart of Habs fans

In the short term, 30-year-old Shea Weber will be excellent for Montreal, but a few years down the road, when his skill inevitably starts to diminish, P.K. Subban should still be clicking along in the prime of his career.

Sending star defenceman to Nashville hurts, but Habs get top-end talent Shea Weber in return

P.K. Subban is beloved by Habs fans, shown here giving his stick away after a Montreal Canadiens practice in Lac-Mégantic in 2013. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin had us all convinced last Thursday that P.K Subban wasn't going anywhere. 

After a day of wild rumours, Bergevin told reporters that trading the award-winning defenceman wasn't realistic.

Was it impossible? No. But he left the door open a crack when he said, "You never say never, but if somebody offered me half of their team, you've got to make it work, but it's not my intention."

Now, less than a week later, Subban is gone, traded to the Nashville Predators. But not for half the team, rather, for one player — another defenceman, Shea Weber.

More than just a hockey player 

The overwhelming reaction from Habs fans is they feel duped and betrayed.

This is more than a fair way to feel because for many Canadiens fans, Subban is so much more than just a hockey player. The 2013 Norris Trophy winner is a presence that transcends the game. 

He's a player fans feel connected to because in an era when most pro-athletes sound scripted and rehearsed, Subban breaks the mould.

He is outgoing, engaging, entertaining and a generous philanthropist, with both his money and time. 

He is also a darn good hockey player. 

Subban was more than just a player. He represents a presence in Montreal that transcends the game. (Twitter/Montreal Canadiens)

Subban is everything a fan could want, and the reason many new Habs fans started watching the team.

In the end, however, management didn't see the value in all of that. 

Bergevin sold the trade as a hockey decision pure and simple, sending a message to fans that this wasn't personal, but just business.

This may be true in Bergevin's eyes, but hockey fans don't see watching the Habs as business. They see it as entertainment, and this move just made the team a whole lot less entertaining. 

This isn't Patrick Roy all over again

This is a tough pill for fans to swallow, but Habs fans have seen worse.

In 1995, Patrick Roy was traded to Colorado Avalanche for Jocelyn Thibault and not much more than a bag of pucks.

In 2009, Scott Gomez came to Montreal from the New York Rangers in a deal that sent Ryan McDonagh to New York.

Weber is a better deal than both of those by a long shot, at least in the short term. 

He is a legitimate star who comes to Montreal with Olympic gold medals around his neck, and a slap shot that once ripped a hole in the net.

But it's still not a good deal for Montreal. 

Subban, a 2013 Norris Trophy winner, battles for the puck with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Chris Kunitz during the first period at the Bell Centre in January 2016. (Eric Bolte/USA Today Sports/Reuters)

Weber will be 31 years old this August, and carries with him a contract that will keep him on the Habs' books for the next 10 years. 

Subban is four years younger than Weber, and statistically they produce close to the same numbers offensively.

The positive for Weber is that he makes fewer turnovers than Subban and scores a lot more on the power play, an area where Montreal has struggled mightily in recent years.  

In the short term, Weber will be excellent for Montreal, but a few years down the road, when his skill inevitably starts to diminish, Subban should still be clicking along in the prime of his career. 

Weber is a stud of a player, but so is Subban, and that makes it hard to sell this move as a significant upgrade. 

Add in what Subban meant to Habs fans off the ice and it's no wonder that to them, the trade feels like a knife to the heart. 

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